LISTEN | SA records 76.4% matric pass — a slight increase from last year
The matric class of 2021 achieved a 76.4% pass rate, up from 76.2% the year before.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga released the results at an event on Thursday night.
The Free State was the best-performing province, at 85.7% (up 0.6 percentage points from 2020), while Limpopo was the worst-performing at 66.7% (a decline of 1.5 percentage points from the year before) and the only province to achieve below 70%.
The Northern Cape and Eastern Cape made the biggest improvements in the 2021 matric exams, recording 71.4% and 73% respectively. The Northern Cape improved its pass rate by 5.4 percentage points, while the Eastern Cape’s pass rate shot up by 4.9 percentage points.
Tshwane South in Gauteng was the country’s top-performing district, followed by Motheo (Free State) and Fezile Dabi (Johannesburg West). Ekurhuleni South in Gauteng and the Metro district in Western Cape tied for fifth.
Listen to the national results:
Motshekga said 36.4% of candidates achieved a bachelor pass, while 25.2% achieved a diploma pass.
Pupils in total bagged 211,725 distinctions.
At least 37.8% of pupils who were progressed — those pushed into matric despite failing grade 11 — passed, including 3,440 who achieved a bachelor pass.
Motshekga said the class of 2021 was the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic “as they had to endure two consecutive years of harsh exposure to the unrelenting virus”.
She said they continued with the differentiated timetabling, the trimmed curriculum delivery for the school communities below grade 12, the regular provisioning of school feeding and psychosocial services, as well as extra tuition and support provided to the matric class of 2021.
A total of 354,476 passes were produced by quintile 1-3 schools — the poorest schools — which was an increase of 28.5 percentage points from 2020. These schools produced 149,648 bachelor passes, an increase of 29.5% from 2020.
Motshekga said the gap between the bachelor passes produced by no-fee schools vs those produced by fee-paying schools has significantly and progressively increased from 2% in 2015 to 24% in 2021.
She said of the 1,116,899 pupils who enrolled in grade 1 in 2010, a total of 733,198 were retained until 2021 — representing 67.2% who “survived” through the basic education system.
Motshekga said the number of candidates qualifying for admission to bachelor studies at universities was 256,031 — up four percentage points from 2020.
“This represents 36.4% of the total number of candidates who wrote the 2021 National Senior Certificate exams. We must state that KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng contributed the most bachelor passes,” said Motshekga.
Reacting to the matric pass rate, the CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas), Jaco Deacon, said while the percentage increase in the pass rate was small, learners and teachers managed to improve on previous performance despite two years of extensive disruptions.
“These dedicated teachers faced the same challenges as the learners. The physical and emotional challenges of the pandemic were also their reality. Yet they went out of their way to put in extra work, time and effort to ensure that the learners were able to complete their school careers.”
Earlier, during a technical briefing ahead of the results, director-general of basic education Mathanzima Mweli said for the first time in SA's history, 61.8% of bachelor passes in last year’s matric exams came from SA’s poorest schools — the quintile 1-3 schools.
“It means that children of people in rural areas, townships and informal settlements have now increased the output to 61.8%. It’s never happened in the system in history. I am actually shaking,” he said.
In contrast, in 2005 at least 20% of quintile 4 and 5 schools — the so-called wealthy schools — accounted for 80% of the bachelor passes.
The percentage of bachelor passes produced by quintile 4 and 5 schools went down from 42% in 2020 to 38.2% in 2021.
Western Cape pupils produced the most bachelor passes, followed by Gauteng and then the Free State.
The number of distinctions produced nationally dropped slightly from 4.3% to 4.2% with a decline in the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the North West and the Northern Cape.
Mweli said the number of pupils passing accounting, economics, geography, history and maths literacy, at 30%, had dropped.
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